This book is intended as a companion volume to Getting Into the Game: The Pre-Presidential Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, 1 which explores Reagan's rise to the presidency through an examination of his public speech prior to his election in 1980. This study is a further exploration of the Reagan rhetoric. Specifically, it is a study of the rhetoric of the "Reagan revolution" and how that rhetoric supported, impeded, and affected Reagan's policy goals and political success. My thesis is that Reagan's use of language in his public speech was instrumental to the creation and maintenance of the "teflon presidency," and that this use of language created a situation whereby the teflon was bound to crack, as it did in 1986. Further, it is my contention that Reagan's rhetorical success was built around foreign policy events, and this is why a foreign policy event (in the shape of Iran/Contra) provided the most conspicuous failure of the Reagan administration.
Rhetoric is the focus of the study for three reasons: first, public speech and public speaking are increasingly important elements in our understanding of the modern presidency; second, Reagan's communicative skill has been an integral part of his presidency; finally, as a methodological focus, the study of rhetoric provides a unique and valuable vantage point from which to view a specific president as well as the office of the presidency.
Rhetoric has become increasingly important to modern presidents, who spend more and more of their time on their public